The Difference Between Sunscreen Spray & Lotion

The sunscreen aisle at the drugstore can feel pretty overwhelming. With endless rows of sunscreens to choose from, knowing if sunscreen lotion is better than spray and what the difference between the two is can at least help you narrow down your selection. What matters most, though, is that you remember to apply whichever sunscreen you settle on every single day.

Luckily for those with a preference, the only real difference between spray and lotion is how to properly apply each one for maximum coverage. “Since each one works, it comes down to which type you personally prefer, so you increase the odds of using it regularly,” Jennifer A. Stein, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langhorne Medical Center in New York City told Women's Health.

As for proper application either way, both take a little effort. For spray, FutureDerm shared, "To apply enough spray sunscreen to achieve the level of protection listed on a bottle ... you need approximately six seconds of application per area of your body. The average user in our testing applied only 1/4 of the amount they needed, zipping over entire areas of their bodies in a mere 1-2 seconds." Suddenly spray sunscreen is looking a little less speedy, huh?

When it comes to lotion, FutureDerm said, "To achieve the level of protection listed on a bottle, you need a 1/4 teaspoon for your face and neck, reapplied every four hours." EWG added that chemical sunscreen lotions need to be applied at least thirty minutes before going outside to be fully effective.

Don't have a preference yet? Consider the factors below to decide whether spray sunscreen or lotion is better for you.

If You Have Sensitive Skin

Neutral Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, Unscented, SPF 50, $17, True Natural

PopSugar shared that "Many spray formulas also contain alcohol, which could affect sensitive skin" and cause a negative reaction.

If You Have Dry Skin

Clinique Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Body Cream, $25, Sephora

Again, the fact that many spray sunscreens include alcohol could dry out skin. However, many lotion sunscreens have added moisturizing ingredients. Hooray!

If You Hate Rubbing Things In

Supergoop! Antioxidant Infused Sunscreen Mist, $19, Amazon

My sister is one just one of those humans that has a serious aversion to having to wait so long to rub sunscreen all over her body. If this sounds familiar, you might want to hit up spray!

If You're Kind Of Haphazard

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Sensitive SPF 30, $14, Amazon

Spray sunscreen makes it easier to miss covering certain parts of your body since it doesn't show any streaks like lotion would. If you know in your heart of hearts you won't meticulously apply spray, go for lotion.

If Feeling Greasy Is Your Worst Nightmare

Coola Sport Continuous Spray SPF 50, $36, Sephora

If you just can't get over that slightly greasy feeling that most lotion sunscreens cause before they dry, spray is the obvious alternative. At the end of the day, you want to buy a sunscreen you'll actually want to wear.

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Images: Fotolia; Courtesy of Brands